By Ioana Good and Ryan King
Your firm’s business is on the rise yet every time you scroll through your newsfeeds, read the newspaper or watch a news program, you find your competitors being quoted or featured. The attorneys you work with want this kind of coverage but are short on time due to their demanding work schedules, board activities, community involvement and family engagements. Dealing with the media also feels uncomfortable for them as they fear the reporters will not tell the story correctly. Sound familiar? This is what we discovered when we asked our clients (i.e. very smart lawyers we love to work with!)
Media interviews can be a daunting experience for almost anyone. Encourage your attorneys to take the following steps to ensure a successful media interview.
- Similar to preparing for a case, successful media messages depend on preparation. Pick a story angle ahead of time and stick to it thought the interview. This bolsters your ability to serve as a subject-matter expert.
- Consider all of the difficult questions that may be asked and prepare answers. This critical step will help you from being caught off guard.
- If you are asked a challenging question that you did not consider or are asked to talk about something that you simply can’t discuss, you can maintain control of the interview by using bridging techniques with phrases like: “before we leave the subject, let me add that …” “And the one thing that is important to remember is …” “While this is important, it is also important to remember that...”
- Reporters love to use research and statistics in their stories as much as lawyers do. Feel free to prepare some stats and takeaways for reporters to help emphasize the story angle you are trying to promote.
- Reporters are trained to listen. Just because a reporter puts away a notebook, a microphone or turns off a tape recorder doesn’t mean the interview is over and you can say anything without it being used.
- Reporters hate when someone misleads or lies to them. They don’t like it when their stories have to be corrected through no fault of their own and because of inaccurate information provided to them. Accuracy is a gold standard for reporters. Help them achieve it and you can bet they will come back to you with another interview opportunity.
- Instead of using industry jargon, speak in simple terms to appeal to the general public and potential clients. The reporter will most likely use those comments word-for-word which earns more thought leadership clout.
- Body language can be just as important as words. Keep your arms loose and gesture naturally. This will help you appear calm and confident. Don’t cross your arms, your legs or put your hands in your pockets. Strive for a relaxed and happy face. Again, you are the expert who has the opportunity to share your knowledge.
- Some reporters will ask you to spell your name on camera or tape so the editors can include it in the caption. If they don’t, be sure to spell your name and your firm’s name so they can include it in their story correctly.
- Whether your story appears online, in print, radio or on television, don’t forget to engage in the digital space. Update your social media channels, website and blogs before and after the interview to continue the growth and expansion of your online brand.
Presenting your firm’s business and knowledge base to the public is important. Keeping these general media tips in mind puts your attorneys at a greater advantage to deliver a successful message and stay in front of their clients.
Ioana Good manages communications for Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, the largest law firm in Central Florida, and is a board member of the Legal Marketing Association’s Southeastern Chapter. She is a published author and lectures about new media at Rollins College. She can be reached at Ioana.email@example.com.
Ryan King has the unique experience of working in an in-house marketing environment, in broadcast media and in a public relations agency. Currently, he is the director of communications for Ogletree Deakins, an international labor and employment law firm representing management. He is a member of the Legal Marketing Association’s Atlanta City Group and serves as the programming chair. He can be reached at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.